COMPLEX and Related Long-Range Scientific and Technical Planning for Scientific Ocean Drilling

James A. Austin, Jr., The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics: (Member, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program [IODP] Long-Range Planning Subcommittee [IPSC])

The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP, 1984-Present), the successor to the Deep-Sea Drilling Project (DSDP, 1968-1983), will end in 2003. As part of an international scientific and technical planning process designed to develop a multiple-drilling platform scientific program to succeed ODP (IODP), approximately 300 scientists from a number of countries gathered in Vancouver May 25-29, 1999, to participate in COMPLEX, the "Conference on Multi-Platform Experiments". COMPLEX, designed to address globally important scientific objectives achievable through riserless (JOIDES Resolution-type) drilling in the oceans, succeeded CONCORD, the "Conference on Cooperative Ocean Riser Drilling", held in Tokyo, Japan, during the summer of 1997. In service of IODP, Japan is committed to construction and operation of a ~$500 million riser-equipped drilling vessel, to be ready for initial testing in ~2003 and for international scientific ocean drilling by 2006-2008.

COMPLEX participants were organized into 14 scientific sessions: climate change (on short- and long-time scales, links with tectonics, and extreme events), the development and evolution of oceanic lithosphere, the "subduction factory" at convergent margins, studies of the "seismogenic zone" at convergent margins, rifting processes/basin and passive margin evolution, dynamics of the earth's interior/Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), impacts, hydrates, and the deep biosphere. In addition, there were ongoing discussions and presentations concerning enabling technologies and the potential for scientific partnership between academia and industry. Participants also considered the complicated issue of mapping their science into the appropriate drilling technologies, including so-called "fit-to-mission" platforms specifically suited to special purpose drilling, like operations in shallow water (< 100 m) and in high latitudes (e.g., the Arctic Basin). A report of COMPLEX is expected by the end of the summer, 1999; this report will be widely disseminated to the international earth sciences community by Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (Washington, D.C.;

The COMPLEX and CONCORD reports, and other pertinent planning documents (e.g., workshop reports and scientific planning documents from RIDGE, MARGINS, ICDP, Nansen Arctic Drilling, etc.) will be integrated by a scientific working group of IPSC to produce a draft science plan for IODP by early 2000. In the spring of 2000, another international conference, ICOSOD (the "International Conference on Scientific Ocean Drilling") will evaluate the draft science plan, and begin to integrate it with ongoing financial and management planning for the multi-platform program. Final decision-making on IODP by funding agencies from interested partner nations should occur in late 2001 or early 2002.

Part of the impetus for IODP will be provided by highly-regarded proposals for drilling experiments submitted by subsets of the international earth sciences community. The focus of this NSF-sponsored workshop, CAMP and its relationships with climate history, biotic evolution and dispersal, and the initial opening of the Atlantic, is a logical candidate for one of these long-term, ambitious drilling experiments.